House of Saud

A hundred years ago, the Arabian peninsula was a place of warring tribes. Nomads, sheikhs, emirs. Among them was the family of Al Saud. Today they are the guarantors of world oil and stewards of fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam. Can their power hold in the 21st century? A history of modern Saudi Arabia.

“… a scrupulous, informative chronicle of the United States-Saudi Arabian alliance. It’s also romantic, because — it’s irrefutable — the Saudis are romantic. …

“Any invocation of romance in this context may suggest an Orientalist aesthetic, but one of the tacit lessons of this exceptional film by the talented and tireless Martin Smith is that that aesthetic — the one inherited from Lawrence of Arabia days, now updated with images of oil-sponsored opulence and ascetic jihadis — profoundly informs the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia. …”
– New York Times

“PBS’ news magazine ‘Frontline’ must have a crystal ball in its office. How else to explain the program’s knack for airing exhaustive documentaries on much-covered topics, mere days after the subject has become urgent again?

“The latest triumph of timing is ‘House of Saud,’ a sharply critical documentary about Saudi Arabia — an oil-rich monarchy that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers, and that inundates its schoolchildren with anti-American and anti-Jewish rhetoric, but is still considered a valued ally. In the foreign policy section of his State of the Union address, President Bush took baby steps toward modifying this opinion, but ‘Frontline’ argues for wholesale revision. …

“While ‘Frontline’ catalogs Saudi Arabia’s troubles with a fairly cold eye, the program ends on a mildly hopeful note…”
– Newark Star-Ledger

“… Leave it to ‘Frontline’ to present a cogent and engrossing history of U.S. dealings with Saudi Arabia for the past 60 years. …”
– The Hartford Courant

“… doesn’t flinch from either the details or the implications…”
– New York Daily News

“Excellent documentary…”
- Houston Chronicle